First drive: MG HS
The new MG SUV offers great safety features and value for money.
Most ranges of new motor vehicles include a choice of entry, mid and top-of-range models.
In the case of just two models, it obviously comes down to the former and the latter.
MG’s new HS is one of the twin offerings. With seating for five, a 1.5-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission (seven-speed dual-clutch), the HS pretty well fits the medium SUV segment template.
That is until you run your eye over the impressive standard equipment inventory and price sticker.
Even the base model, the Vibe as it’s called, comes stacked with the latest and greatest safety tech as well as comprehensive connectivity. All for $30,990 driveaway.
The safety suite – MG Pilot, in marketing speak – includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop/start, blind-spot and lane-keep assist, speed sign detection and rear cross-traffic alert.
Also standard is a class-leading 10.1-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, leather-look upholstery, adjustable ambient lighting on the dashboard, keyless entry/start and twin USB ports front and rear. Digital radio is one of the few omissions.
For $3000 more, the Excite model adds satellite navigation, dual-zone airconditioning, power tailgate, 18-inch alloys, sports driving mode and paddle-gear shift.
So, how does the HS drive? Quite well, actually, if short of best in class (think Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4).
There’s a tad turbo lag from a start, but the 119kW/250Nm engine feels responsive, particularly in the mid-range.
The transmission can be guilty of holding a gear longer than necessary, but on the higher-spec Excite model this can be over-ridden by using the paddles to shift manually.
The HS handles a succession of twists and turns fairly competently, although the steering could do with a touch more feel off-centre.
It rides reasonably compliantly on all but rougher surfaces; that said, a local suspension tuning program along the lines of what Hyundai and Kia undertake would be of real benefit.
The seats are comfortable and controls are conveniently positioned.
There’s good outlook ahead, to the sides and back.
Front and rear interior space measures up arguably better than most medium SUVs while the boot capacity (463 litres) is as good as most.
Based on our drive from Tullamarine to the Yarra Valley and back, the HS showed itself to be the best of the Chinese brand’s range we’ve experienced.
Being the latest model to market, this suggests MG is moving forward.As such, and if safety and value are what matter to you, we would suggest the HS (particularly the Vibe) well worth a look.
Price: $30,990 (Vibe), $33,990 (Excite), drive-away
Engine: 1.5-litre, 119kW/250Nm turbo petrol 4-cyl
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic; Front Wheel Drive
Fuel economy (ADR combined cycle): 7.3 litres/100km
ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars
Warranty/servicing: 7 years/unlimited km, 12 months/10,000km